94 Bush Tucker
The Australian bush contains a bounty of wild edible plant species that runs into the thousands, ranging from starchy seeds and tangy fruits to mushrooms, tubers, leaves and seaweeds. However, knowing how to identify edible plants is not easy.
The knowledge Aboriginal people have about which plants are edible, which plants are poisonous, and which plants are poisonous but can be prepared in certain ways that make then safe to eat would have been acquired over generations (6,000 years) of trial and error (Hiddins, 2001; Smith & Smith,1999).
They used plants for healing and medicine, and for weapons and tools (Brand-Miller, & Holt, 1998). They understood the changes of the seasons and the life cycles of animals and plants, and how these processes effected their own survival. However, current knowledge of Aboriginal diet and herbal medicine is quite limited, since the Aboriginal lifestyle was obliterated long before it could be recorded (Low, 1988).
WARNING: Never eat plants that are growing in an area where they may have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides (weed killers), or where the water supply to the area could be polluted, such as from urban or industrial run-off. Never eat any part of any wild growing plant unless you are certain you can identify it. Being certain means you have developed a maturity of skill in identifying plants. It does not mean you are pretty sure it looks just like "that plant you saw once on some website".
Rubus moluccanus - Molucca Raspberry
Molucca bramble or Molucca berry) Australia’s molucca berry is closely related to and resembles the European raspberry but with a brighter colour and sweeter flavour. As well as being delicious to eat, Molucca Berries are very nutritious and are fast gaining a reputation as a natural medicine.
Rubus rosifolius - Rose-leaved Raspberry
Commonly known as Native Raspberry or Rose-leaved Bramble. This vigorous shrub is well known to our indigenous peoples as a bush food and medicine. It's described by some as having 'edible but insipid' fruit (lacking taste or savor; tasteless). According to aboriginal people in Australia, berries are considered as a mild laxative if eaten in large quantities.
Syzygium oleosum - Blue Lily Pilly
The Blue Lilly Pilly, also known as blue cherry and scented satinash, produces palatable blue-purple berries that are crunchy and light with a mild sweetness. In the wild, you’ll find these plants around the eastern Australian rainforest regions. Traditionally, Aboriginals would eat the fleshy fruit raw, or make a medicinal pulp to treat sore ears
Macadamia tetraphylla - Macadamia, Queensland Nut, Rough-shelled Bush Nut
There are four species of Macadamia, two of which are used for production of Macadamia nuts in Australia (Macadamia tetraphylla and M. integrifoIia). This species is only commercially planted to a small extent in Australia although cultivar hybrids between it and M. integrifolia are common. Named after John Macadam - a doctor from Victoria. These nuts were the first natives foods to be cultivated, they are now cultivated in other countries as well as Australia and considered Australia's finest contribution to the culinary arts.
Syzygium moorei - Durobby, Coolamon
An unusual factor of this tree is cauliflory. Where flower and fruit form on the main stems or woody trunks rather than from new growth and shoots. The berry is white or pale green up to 6 cm in diameter The white fleshy fruits are edible although rather tasteless. The fruit is not pleasant to eat raw, but is an excellent ingredient in mixed preserves.
Dianella caerulea - Blue Flax Lily
A total of 15 species of flax lilly exist in Australia. It is generally believed that all species are edible in small quantities aside from D. tasmanica, which is not edible. One way to spot this one is that it has noticeably larger fruits than other Dianella species. Aborigines used the tough leaves to weave dillies and baskets, and ate the small tasty berries in small amounts. The berries and seeds when eaten raw have a sweet and nutty flavour. Roots can also be eaten as bush tucker if pounded and roasted. The berries are also very attractive to birds.
Alpinia caerulea - Native Ginger
Australian Ginger is a versatile plant that is traditionally used by the Aboriginal people for food and crafting. Both the spicy root and bright blue fruits can be eaten. Its ginger-scented rhizome can be used, like other ginger roots, in savory dishes, desserts, jams, candies and tea. Even better, wrap the leaves around meats and vegetables as you roast them in the oven or BBQ for an extra ‘zing’. The large leaves were traditionally cut and used in thatch shelters.
Ficus coronata - Sandpaper Fig
Sandpaper Fig gets its name from its rough, sandpaper-like leaves. The figs are sweet and flavoursome and the leaves make excellent sandpaper. Aboriginal people traditionally used the leaves to smooth and polish weaponry, the bark to make string, and the fruit for delicious bush tucker.